18 years for Malahide 'Tiger' kidnapper
A Cavan resident has been jailed for 18 years for a €92,000 post office robbery during which three women were tied up and abducted from a Malahide home.
Paschal Kelly (53) was one of a gang of three men who burst into the home of postmistress Susan Lawlor at Seabury Drive, Malahide, Dublin on September 25, 2014.
The gang used to cable ties to bind Ms Lawlor, her daughter and an Italian student who was staying at the home.
The women were brought to a field where they were held over night before the gang drove them to the Bayside Post Office in Sutton, Dublin.
At one stage Kelly threatened to burn them alive in a car by pouring petrol over it.
The raiders eventually left with the cash.
Last December Kelly with an address in Cootehill, Co. Cavan, was convicted of trespass and false imprisonment Ms Lawlor, her daughter Emma Carter and student Gabriella Saisa.
He was also convicted of robbery at Bayside Post Office and of threatening to kill the three women.
He was found guilty of possession of a stolen vehicle, all on the same date.
The father-of-two had denied all charges. His trial last year extended into a ninth week at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.
Judge Karen O'Connor paid 'a very special tribute to the three remarkable women' who she said showed courage that not only got them through their ordeal but led to the capture of one suspect.
She said it was clear Ms Lawlor was using her mind right to the end of the incident when she suggested the raiders put money into post office bags so it could be traced.
She noted too how Ms Carter had tried to delay leaving the house because she thought her screaming might have alerted the gardaí.
'These women have demonstrated extraordinary dignity throughout this case and for that I am very grateful to them', Judge O'Connor said.
She said during the sentence hearing, Kelly's defence team had suggested this case did not meet the criteria for a tiger kidnapping.
Judge O'Connor said she disagreed and described how Ms Lawlor's home was violated and targeted and that she was 'clearly the subject of surveillance'.
The judge said the offending was premeditated, because the raiders used duct tape, cable ties and guns and they had their faces disguised.
She said Ms Lawlor was separated, punched and threatened before being brought to the post office and that the money was only recovered because her 'fast thinking actions' had alerted the authorities.
Judge O'Connor told the court it made for 'disturbing viewing' to have watched the CCTV footage of the three women being brought into the post office in their night wear.
Judge O'Connor said the aggravating factors in the case was its premeditated and planned nature, the violation of Ms Lawlor's home and the use of firearms.
She said the threats to kill instilled considerable fear and terror.
The judge told the court she was respecting the three women's wishes by not disclosing details of their victim impact statements in public.
She acknowledged the crime clearly impacted them and said 'one cannot imagine the terror the three women endured that night'.
She accepted Kelly had a difficult and chaotic upbringing and had suffered deprivation from a young age.
She said he had suffered 'extremely serious abuse' in State institutions, but has a supportive partner and two 'impressive' children, who have never come to garda attention.
The court heard Kelly's 60 previous convictions include assaults, escaping lawful custody, robbery and road traffic offences.
Judge O'Connor imposed an 18 year sentence with credit to be given for time Kelly has already spent in custody on the matter.